The Grand Hotel in the 1880s. Christopher Horlock / Amberley Publishing /

By Mark McConville

NOSTALGIC pictures have revealed how Brighton looked around the turn of the twentieth century as it started to become the popular daytrip destination it is today.

The vessel here is the Brighton Queen, built in 1897 and owned, when this view was taken in the early 1900s, by P. and A. Campbell, the leading coastal cruising firm of the day. The vessel was lost in the First World War, when on minesweeping duty off the Belgian coast. Brighton Queen II replaced it in 1933, but this too was lost – bombed during the Dunkirk evacuation. Christopher Horlock / Amberley Publishing /

The incredible images show the Royal Pavilion in 1846 when it was still a Royal residence, the popular Brighton pier and interior of the famous Hippodrome where Harry Houdini, and many other great stars from the Victorian and Edwardian periods performed.

Other stunning shots show the Corn Exchange during the First World War as it was converted into a hospital for wounded Indians, the clock tower being unveiled in 1888 and the Grand Hotel which many see as Brighton’s most attractive seafront hotel.

A view of the Corn Exchange converted into a hospital. Where people once roller skated just a few years previously, wounded Indians now occupy sick beds. Christopher Horlock / Amberley Publishing /

The black and white photographs are showcased in a new book, Brighton From Old Photographs, by Christopher Horlock and published by Amberley Publishing.

“Brighton then was obviously a very different place to what it is today,” said Mr Horlock in the book’s introduction.

“A lot has changed, many buildings and streets demolished and a huge amount lost just to the vicissitudes of time.

East Street was, and still is, a popular shopping thoroughfare and remains extremely narrow compared to North and West Streets. Today it’s partly pedestrianised. This view looks north but is the southern end of the street, around 1905, with Pool Valley off to the right. Christopher Horlock / Amberley Publishing /

“The photographs in this book show Brighton at the height of its Victorian and Edwardian popularity with visitors, and when it was a busy workplace for many of its residents.

“Civic pride was deeply felt and the mindset of people totally different to today. It shows a world, now gone forever, that was much simpler and moved at a pace far removed from the gadget-strewn, consumer-driven lifestyle we follow today.”

The unveiling ceremony of the clock tower in 1888, with all the town worthies assembled for the official photograph. The man in the stylish pale top hat is James Willing, a wealthy advertising contractor who had paid £2,000 for the tower to be built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria (which was actually the year before). Famously dismissed by architectural expert Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘worthless’, there have been any number of attempts to have it removed over the years, none of which have succeeded. Christopher Horlock / Amberley Publishing /

Most of the photographs in this book come from the collection of the author, which was started in 1968.

Mr Horlock has tried to provide an accurate representation of Brighton during this period although acknowledges there are omissions.

“The photographs have been selected to show the main streets, key buildings and amenities of Brighton, plus its piers, seaside attractions and other entertainments, from the 1840s to the beginning of the First World War,” he explained.

“The earliest photographs date from when the railway had just reached Brighton and the town was receiving its first ‘trippers’.

The railway works at Brighton could turn out an engine in just four weeks. By 1914, Fernhurst was stationed at Fratton, received a major overhaul at Brighton in 1949, ending its working days at Three Bridges. It was withdrawn in 1951. Christopher Horlock / Amberley Publishing /

“These visitors sought entertainment and diversion, resulting in a mushrooming of Brighton’s resort attractions including new hotels, the West and Palace Piers, Volk’s Railway, theatres, circuses and early cinema, plus the staging of sporting events like the seafront speed trials,
the London to Brighton Veteran Car Rally and the formation of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club.

“All these feature in the book. There are many omissions – the author is very aware of them.”

The interior of the ‘Hippo’, photographed in the early 1900s following conversion. Every famous variety entertainer appeared here over the years, including magician Harry Houdini, Sarah Bernhardt, Harry Lauder, male impersonator Vesta Tilley, George Robey, Marie Lloyd – infact, name any great star from the Victorian and Edwardian periods and they almost certainly performed at this celebrated theatre. Christopher Horlock / Amberley Publishing /

Chris Horlock is a retired schoolteacher who was born (1953), brought up and educated in Brighton, living at White Street, off Edward Street.

Brighton From Old Photographs, by Christopher Horlock, is published by Amberley Publishing. The paperback is available now for £12.99.

The Royal Pavilion, 1946. It was built by George IV, who reigned from 1820 to 1830, and also served as a seaside residence for his brother, William IV. Queen Victoria, William’s niece, also used it, but disliked Brighton and the building’s lack of privacy, so visited rarely, eventually selling it to the Brighton Commissioners (the group responsible for local government at the time) in 1850 for £53,000. Phillipe Garner /